Shutdown threat recedes as Trump softens stance on wall

Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Roy Blunt
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, right, arrives to speak to reporters about the possibility of a partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump appeared Tuesday to back off his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall, signaling for the first time that he might be open to a deal that would avoid a partial government shutdown. The White House set the tone when press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated that Trump doesn’t want to shut down the government, though just last week he said he’d be “proud” to do so. The president would consider other options and the administration was looking at ways to find the money elsewhere, Sanders said. It was a turnaround after days of impasse. Without a resolution, more than 800,000 government workers could be furloughed or sent to work without pay beginning at midnight Friday, disrupting government operations days before Christmas. One option that has been circulating on Capitol Hill would be to simply approve government funding at existing levels, without a boost for the border, as a stopgap measure to kick the issue into the new Congress next month. The chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., confirmed late Tuesday his office was preparing legislation to keep government funded, likely into February. The White House preference was for a longer-term package, although the conversation remained fluid and Trump has been known to quickly change course, said a person familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to discuss them by name.